Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green made two films this year. This is the better one.
Sam Rockwell kills it as an estranged father taking his daughter on one last trip to the mall for a family portrait. Featuring some of the blackest humor to hit the screen this year, every moment of this heart shattering drama will have you on the edge of your seat.
Great performances, a great story, and a great director make for very little to complain about. Except for this disc's absolute lack of special features. Boo!
David Gordon Green made quite the name for himself this summer with the Apatow produced comedy Pineapple Express. What you might not have known is that he also directed last March's heartbreaking family drama Snow Angels. This truly unique weeper is a three hundred and sixty degree turn away from his work with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, but it proves the young auteur to be one of this generation's most gifted and versatile directors. Snow Angels was adapted from a novel by Stewart O'Nan. It follows two converging stories of love and loss. One focuses on a recently separated couple attempting to pick up the threads of their future when they are suddenly faced with a painful tragedy. The second is about an awkward young man that, while currently in the throes of discovering his first romance, is forced to deal with the separation and subsequent strife of his parents' broken relationship. It is a poignant drama that, for some reason, also contains a cameo from none other than Freddy Krueger. While harrowing in its depiction of small town life, Green is able to inject the proceedings with some very black humor, which makes this one of the more exceptional films of the year. While billed as the third lead, Sam Rockwell steals the film away from the rest of this cast as a man that has gone off the deep end. He becomes estranged from his wife, played by the almost too gorgeous for this backwoods fairytale Kate Beckinsale, and falls into a deep hole of born again Christianity. Reemerging on the other side, he tries to make things right. The man is certainly off balance, and when his five-year-old daughter goes missing, you can't help but think he had something to do with it. Rockwell's story arc reminds me a lot of Bill Paxton's Frailty. Only here, we're dealing with real life demons here. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby as the young couple discovering love for the first time. Both are superb in their exploration of heartfelt emotion and loss, and they give the film some much needed center weight. Not a lot of noise has been made about this film. But I'm sure that once David Gordon Green establishes himself as one of the more unique voices in American filmmaking, people will flock back to it and realize it for the undiscovered masterpiece that it is.
There is not one extra to be found on this disc. Which is a bummer. David Gordon Green is nuts, and a commentary or an insightful on-camera interview would have been appreciated. Seriously, what is Freddy Krueger doing in that bar scene? Inquiring minds want to know.
The film is presented in both the widescreen and the full-screen format. The whites are blinding, as much of the action takes place in the snow. You can literally feel the cold coming off the screen of your TV set.
The film is presented in English and French Dolby Surround 5.1.
This is a truly awful DVD cover. That unattractive image of Kate Beckinsale looks as though it was scraped directly off a Xeroxed copy of a production still from some other movie. And the snowed-in business taking place in the corner doesn't make much sense. Where is Sam Rockwell? Where is the "From the director of Pineapple Express" blurb? This DVD cover tells me absolutely nothing about the film. And it looks like some direct-to-DVD garbage headed for the deep discount bin. I'd never discover this one sitting on the shelf. I would let it slip right past me if I didn't know any better. And the tag line? "Some will Fall. Some will Fly." That is stupid. And doesn't say anything about the experience contained within. This is a lousy marketing job, to say the least.
THE FINAL WORD
This is a great film from director David Gordon Green. It is one of the more unique filmgoing experiences of the year, and I hope more people discover it on DVD. The entire cast is great, but it's Sam Rockwell that truly puts in an award worthy performance. It's so sad that he'll be overlooked at the end of the year. Do yourself a favor and see Snow Angels. You'll cry. You'll laugh. And it just might scare a little bit of poo out of your pee hole. It is one of the year's ten best.
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